Host: Yun Ding
Understanding how genes originate and evolve is crucial to explaining the origin and evolution of novel phenotypes and ultimately the diversity of life. However, the mechanisms through which novel genes originate and are co-opted into a functional network remain largely unknown. Recent work using next-generation sequencing and population genomics has revealed that de novo genes - genes born from ancestrally non-genic sequences - contribute to gene innovation. However, the earliest steps in the birth process of de novo genes were unknown. Research in the Zhao Laboratory aims to understand the origination and evolution of novel genes and how they contribute to phenotypic innovation and adaptation. For example, to test the hypothesis of whether cellular differentiation influences the de novo gene birth process, her lab leveraged single-cell RNA-sequencing to understand expression dynamics. In this seminar, Zhao will present current work in the lab on the sequence evolution, expression regulation, and structural origin of de novo genes.